One step closer to real energy independence​ in New Mexico

SB 489, the Energy Transition Act cleared its first hurdle this past Saturday as it passed out of the Senate Conservation Committee 5-3. ProgressNow New Mexico joins our robust coalition of statewide partners in thanking the committee for making this a priority for the state NOW and for the future of New Mexico. However, almost immediately after the bill passed from the committee, detractors of the bill continued to blanket media space with renewed attacks about this important legislation.  New Energy Economy sent out another misleading email about this landmark bill. NEE stated, “SB 489 does NOT close the plant.

It’s a NEW DAY in New Mexico!

With a new Governor and a host of bold, progressive, new State House representatives, one of the biggest wins this session could be in clean energy. We have a generational opportunity to reduce carbon in New Mexico, through the double-sided coin of increasing our state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio (RPS), the leading climate priority for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham; and retiring the San Juan Generating Station in San Juan County, a source of coal-based carbon emissions for decades. We now have that chance. The Energy Transition Act (ETA, SB 489) was filed today, sponsored by Senator Jacob Candelaria and Representative Nathan Small. Here are the top 5 things the ETA does:

It creates an even stronger new Renewable Portfolio Standard than last week’s bill, because of some pretty tough negotiating by the Governor over the weekend, setting New Mexico on a course for clean energy for literally decades to come.

Will 2017 be the year marijuana is legalized in New Mexico?

Rep. Bill McCamley of Las Cruces is hoping that the fourth time is the charm when it comes to legalizing marijuana for recreational use in New Mexico. “On the house side, Republicans have controlled the House of Representatives for the last two years and they’ve killed this. I mean, they’ve not let this out for discussion. I’ve introduced this three separate times.” McCamley said today in a press conference in Las Cruces.

Could violent protests over North Dakota pipeline happen in New Mexico?

 

All is not well in North Dakota. For months, members of local tribal groups and other private landowners have been battling an oil pipeline designed to move tar sand oil from Canada down to US manufacturing interests in the gulf. This particular pipeline is slated to go UNDER the Missouri River, a key source of drinking water for tribal groups in the area as well as millions of others down river. Did you know that there have been at least 18 pipeline spills in the US this year already? Two already IN THE LAST 3 DAYS, one in California and another in Louisiana.

*Update on Las Cruces school bus drivers*

Las Cruces Public Schools Withdraws Restraining Order against Union Bus Drivers
From AFT press release

April8, 2016

American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly and Las Cruces Transportation Federation #6341 President Marcos Torres released the following statement:

“It is welcome news that the Las Cruces Public Schools Board has voluntarily withdrawn its motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent a strike by the members of LCTF #6341. In addition to withdrawing its motion, the LCPS Board has also vacated its temporary restraining order, and the courts have dismissed the lawsuit in its entirety. This is a victory for the rights of our members and organized labor across New Mexico. The right to strike over labor disputes is guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act, and we feel that any lawsuit attempting to curtail this right represents a grave injustice to our ability to negotiate safer conditions for our students and better policies for STS-NM employees. We renew our call for parents, community members, and the Las Cruces Public Schools Board to continue to pressure STS-NM to improve its policies on safety for our students and to create policies which attract and retain the best equipment operators possible.

[LEAKED DOCS] Even Republican business leaders favor minimum wage increases

Conservative-minded groups like chambers of commerce or the Republican Party love trotting out their “the-sky-is-falling!” rhetoric whenever minimum wage increases are proposed. The tired refrain is that businesses don’t want these increases and implementing them will kill jobs. Now, leaked documents from the nation’s leading Republican pollster, Frank Luntz, have turned those clichés upside down. A huge majority of businesses executives actually support minimum wage increases and other pro-worker policies like paid family leave. The Washington Post has a story today about a leaked survey of 1,000 business executives, conducted by Luntz, showing 80% for minimum wage increases with only 8% in opposition.

Top 5 BEST things from #NMLEG 2016

Yesterday we ran through our “Top 5 WORST things from #NMLEG 2016.”

Though bad bills and bad actors were plentiful this year, there were also a lot of great things to look back on from the progressive point-of-view. Today we’re taking a look at the top 5 best things to happen in #NMLEG 2016. #5
Progressive champions in the House
Despite being in the minority, progressives in the House put forth a valiant effort this year to advance some key policies to help our kids, our economy, our education system, our voting systems, and much more. Here’s just a small sampling of these champions:

Rep. Bill McCamley had a bill to equalize the tax code in the state so that people earning most of their income from capital gains would pay the same rate as those who work hourly. “The bill would have increased the state’s Working Families Tax Credit from 10 percent of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent.”

Rep. Jeff Steinborn got his bill to the governor’s desk – which he’s sponsored for years now – to allow some 17 year olds to participate in primary elections.

Does NM have an economic strategy? No. But Alan Webber does.

The 2016 legislative session is coming to a close. And while Gov. Martinez and her House Republican allies spent the majority of the session passing failed crime policies, state revenues were tanking and now $125 million will have to be cut from the state budget in coming years. For the next few days the debate will rage about whether to find ways to raise revenues or whether the money will have to come from cuts to essential state services. But it can be argued that the real reason we’re in this mess in the first place is because Gov. Martinez simply has no comprehensive economic development plan (and, no, reducing wages while handing out deeper tax breaks for corporations and oil and gas companies doesn’t count as an economic strategy). One person who is – and has been – arguing for New Mexico to develop a 21st Century economic development plan that includes a wide portfolio of industries (tourism, tech, food & agriculture, renewable energy, etc.) and investments is entrepreneur Alan Webber.

Bought & Sold: With $160,000 from corporations, is Nate Gentry NM’s most corporate legislator ever?

Meet New Mexico’s most corporate legislator: Rep. Nate Gentry. 
Republican House Majority Leader Gentry is the architect for most of the failed ideas coming out of the House on crime, education, the economy, and jobs this session. Now, new research from ProgressNow NM shows that Gentry might just be New Mexico’s most corporate legislator: since the 2014 elections that put Republicans in charge of the House, Gentry took over $160,000 from corporations and wealthy special interests. ProgressNow NM’s new analysis of campaign finance reports looked at over 12,000 individual contributions and segmented out the 2,304 corporate contributions reported by candidates and elected officials between the November 2014 election and the last reporting period in October 2015 (the most recent data available). While Gentry raked in $160,000, the median amount of corporate donations – the point at which half of legislators received more and half earned less – to all other individual legislators during that same period is $4,650. When looking at the averages, Gentry accumulated 20 times more corporate donations than the average of all other legislators.

Why is new SOS candidate trying to gut wages?

While it might not sound like a sexy issue, the prevailing wage is extremely important for New Mexico’s workers. Last night, HB 200, the bill introduced by new Secretary of State candidate Rep. Nora Espinoza to gut the prevailing wage, was debated in committee but rolled over until tonight at 5:30pm for a vote. New Mexico labor organizations passionately opposed the bill with dozens of the building trades’ skilled craftsmen and women turning out to testify against it. What is the prevailing wage? Under state law, public capital projects over $60,000 must pay workers the “prevailing wage” for their job classification — these wages are set by the state based on negotiated bargaining agreements in the same geographic area as the project. The state Supreme Court recently ruled that the Department of Workforce Solutions was violating existing prevailing wage laws and HB 200 is a blatant effort to avoid complying with current state laws that protect workers.